Ronan had been sick for over a week. At first the vet thought he’d somehow contracted kennel cough, and within a couple days it became clear that he had developed pneumonia. He wasn’t eating and was dealing with a great deal of upper respiratory discomfort.
I took him back to the vet and they ran some tests. He has long had a chronic liver problem, and this was a little worse. In addition, his kidneys had stopped working properly and given the upper respiratory issues she wondered if the melanoma that he had surgery for a couple years ago was back.
They gave him plenty of antibiotics, and also tried an appetite stimulant. Even after that, though, all he would take was a few bites of bacon, and on several occasions in recent days he wouldn’t even do that much.
Last night and this morning he was worse. He was visibly weak and wouldn’t eat – again, he turned his nose up at bacon. He had lost a lot of weight – maybe three or four pounds in a week, which is a lot for a 20-pound dog.
The vet held out little hope, although she was as thorough as she could be in presenting options. The best case scenario was aggressive treatment, but there was no promise that it would work, especially if the melanoma was, in fact, back. We were talking about a few weeks or months at most, and his quality of life during that time was going to be significantly compromised.
I couldn’t hold on and force him to suffer just because I didn’t want to lose him.
I made his last morning as good for him as possible. We went outside to the little park and he got to lie in the grass as the sun rose. We came back in and rested on the couch beside me as I watched soccer, and I was finally able to coax him into taking a few bites of bacon.
On the way to the vet he got to sit in my lap and ride with his head out the window, something he always loved. It’s a crisp, beautiful fall day out here, and I think he liked that.
At the end he had a couple final little nibbles of bacon. I asked the vet if we could do it outside, so we went into the back yard, sat in the grass under a tree, and he went to sleep at my side.
I want to say thank you to those who knew Ronan and loved him through the years. He wasn’t an expressive cuddly type by nature, but even though he was aloof and independent, he always liked being around people. His life was better thanks to his human friends.
I will, at some point, pull myself together enough to maybe write a proper tribute to the best friend a man could ever hope for. At the moment, though, I’m … well, I’m about like you’d expect me to be.